Prep Football Notebook: Week 5
South Rowan coach Jason Rollins liked what he saw from Aaron Kennerly, who threw an early touchdown pass during the Raiders’ 40-20 win over West Iredell on Friday.
Not from Kennerly, but from the usual starting quarterback Nathan Lambert, who was sitting out the first quarter.
“Nathan had a smile from ear-to-ear,” Rollins said. “It’s nice to see your starting quarterback noticing the jayvee quarterback being successful.”
Kennerly, a 5-10 sophomore nicknamed “A-Rod”, stood in for Lambert early and Rollins tried to calm him down with a couple of runs. But when he asked Kennerly to produce through the air, he got results. Kennerly completed an 18-yard touchdown pass to Josh Medlin. It seemed to pump up the entire team, including Lambert, who came in during the second quarter, finishing with 109 yards rushing, two touchdown runs and one TD pass.
“Going from jayvee to varsity quarterback is getting that rhythm,” Rollins said. “We tried to get him comfortable. Kennerly’s got a good arm and he does a good job of staying in the pocket. He reads secondaries very well.”•
HE’S BIG: Defensive lineman Weston Faulkner is listed at 6-foot-1, 305 pounds, but he seemed larger to the West Iredell offensive players.
“He literally blew the center up on three different occasions,” Rollins praised. “Three balls were snapped over the quarterback’s head, which were huge plays. Give credit to Weston. You get hit that hard a couple of times and you don’t know where that ball is going to be snapped.”•
LINE OF DUTY: Rollins was happy with his offensive line. The Raiders outrushed West Iredell 263-56. Brock Miller and Jacob Stubbs played very well, opening holes for Michael Childers (60 yards) and Antonio Hester (58).
“They were hitting holes hard and making things happen,” Rollins said.•
BLOCK: Sophomore linebacker Burke Fulcher blocked a kick that Rollins called a momentum-changer.
Penalty flags prevented East Rowan cornerback Donte Means from enjoying a tremendous night in a 27-7 win against Carson.
Means returned a punt for a touchdown and also returned an interception for a touchdown, although neither score was official because of East penalties.
Means did get credit for the pick. It was his third of the season. He leads the county.
Means and fellow DBs Dalton Bost and Dalton Moose did a lot of the work in slowing down Carson receivers K.J. Pressley and Ben Gragg.•
HILL OF A GAME: While East nose guard T.J. Jefferson was the Post’s athlete of the week and linebacker Tyler L’Hommedieu was East’s “Friday Night Hero,” defensive end Austin Hill also had a game to remember.
Hill had three sacks and made two more tackles for loss.•
GOOD RIVALRY: East and Carson have played six times, and the rivals have split.
In a lot of sports, including football, the East-Carson rivalry is at least as big as Carson-South Rowan.•OVERFLOW: Fans parked anywhere and everywhere they could at East and Erwin and on Highway 52, as one of the biggest crowds the Mustangs have entertained in many years gathered to celebrate homecoming.
“There were the most people I’ve ever seen in our student section,” L’Hommedieu said. “Spirit was crazy all week playing Carson and with homecoming.”•
RUSH HOUR: East’s new offense is working. Backs Calvin Edwards and Madison Hedrick both have gone over 100 yards two weeks in a row.
“Give a lot of credit for that to our offensive line,” coach Danny Misenheimer said. “We grade those kids tough, and they all graded 80 percent or higher on Friday.”
Quarterback Alexis Archie is improving as the season progresses. He had another solid week with 153 yards passing and 53 yards rushing. Archie, a sophomore, completed 10 of 16 passes but was intercepted twice. Archie is fifth in the county in total offense with 469 yards.
“At times he threw the ball well and at times, he made mistakes,” North coach Joe Nixon said. “He’s starting to grow up.”•
WHAT A CATCH: Sakil Harrison reeled in three catches for a team-best 62 yards and impressed former NR coach Tasker Fleming.
“Sakil made three great catches that are Sunday catches,” Fleming said. “He’s got my vote for all-conference.”•
SPECIAL TEAMS: North continues to find ways to excel in special teams play. Jareke Chambers returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown in the first half and Xavier Robinson partially deflected a punt. Kasuan Coney has a punt return and kickoff return for touchdown this season.•
IMPORTANT WIN: Friday marked the first time North won its YVC opener since 2010. That was also a win against South Stanly en route to a 6-1 season in the YVC.•
DEFENSE: North allowed 132 yards passing, which sounds like a lot, but 76 of it came on one play. South quarterback Luke Burris lofted a high floater to Juwan Johnson, who came down with it in single coverage on the third drive of the game. After that, Burris completed three of his final 10 passes. SS finished with only 61 yards rushing. Coney had an interception and Cecil McCauley recovered a fumble.•
HONORS: The boys track team will be given state championship rings at Friday’s game with East Montgomery, in addition to the homecoming celebration.
Carson’s Cougars (1-4) are the county’s most prolific passing team (967 yards), but they are dealing with a three-game losing skid and an identity crisis.
Mark Woody is an old-school, I-formation, pound-on-the-ground coach and he’s less than thrilled that Carson threw for 283 yards in a loss to Hickory Ridge and for 309 in a setback against Robinson.
“That’s not who we are,” Woody said. “For us to be any good, we have to run the ball, and we’ve got to get better at running the ball if we’re going to win football games.”
Woody said Carson has worked diligently in recent weeks to get its running game, which peaked with Shaun Warren and Jacorian Brown carrying the mail in a 10-win season in 2010, back on track.
But the ground game took a step in reverse in Friday’s 27-7 loss at East.
Six sacks for minus-37 yards and a minus-9 that went down as a team rush due to a poor shotgun snap skewed the rushing numbers a bit, but the bottom line was an ugly 11 net rushing yards on 32 attempts.
East’s massive nose guard T.J. Jefferson created some of the problem, but Carson really couldn’t move it outside the tackles either.
Woody’s philosophy is sound. Run, run, run and use the pass as a changeup has been a way of life for almost all the stellar teams in county history.
Woody wants to run the clock, move the chains, put together sustained drives and keep his defense off the field.
“Our defense had to play 70 snaps against Robinson,” he said. “We can’t have that. We’ve got to control the ball more.”•STOUT DEFENDERS: Defensive lineman Myquon Stout was the most impressive Cougar on Friday.
“That guy is a real player,” East’s Misenheimer said.
Tyrese Paul blocked a punt and recovered a fumble. Tre Williams returned a punt blocked by Paul for Carson’s only touchdown.•KJ UPDATE: While it wasn’t a good night for Carson’s offense, K.J. Pressley had seven catches for 114 yards.
Pressley became the ninth player in county history to surpass 100 career receptions. He has 103. The school record is Cody Clanton’s 112. The county record is held by Lamont Savage, who played at North Rowan and West Rowan and had 158 receptions.
Pressley has 1,887 receiving yards for his career, which is seventh on the county’s all-time list. The school record is Clanton’s 2,371. The county record was set by East Rowan’s Johnny Yarbrough in 1970 – 2,862.
West Rowan hasn’t been looking up from the bottom of the NPC standings for a while, but the 10th-ranked Falcons are 0-1 in the NPC after losing 39-20 at Statesville in a conference opener.
The last time West was 0-1 was in 2002 when the Falcons were stunned 22-6 by North Iredell in Olin to begin league play. West managed to go 7-5 overall that year, but it was 2-4 in the NPC, also dropping conference games to Northwest Cabarrus, Mooresville and A.L. Brown.
“Thank (goodness) we’re at a place where we don’t lose much,” coach Scott Young said. “You just go back to work.”•
PARADE OF POINTS: Statesville scored twice on defense, but the 39 points the sixth-ranked Greyhounds put up were still a shock. West’s opponent hadn’t scored 39 since 2003 when the Falcons edged South Rowan 42-39.
West hasn’t allowed more than 39 since 2001 when Mooresville put up 49 and A.L. Brown scored 47 against the Falcons.•
THE GOOD NEWS: It’s not like West got trampled on Friday. West had some problems with Statesville’s aerial game, but it limited the Greyhounds to 25 rushing yards in 20 attempts.
“That’s awesome,” Young said. “They were averaging 200 yards.”•
FAN OF MUMFORD: Linebacker Tristan Mumford replaced the injured Virginia Tech recruit Carlis Parker, just as he did last year, and passed for 250 yards.
No surprise to Young.
“There are some traits he has that are better than Carlis,” Young said of the ECU-bound Mumford. “Carlis is a great player in his own right.”
Salisbury (2-2) returns to action this week at Carson, a program it has beaten in four of five meetings.
The Hornets boast a prolific backfield trio. If they stay healthy, running backs Max Allen and Justin Ruffin will top 2,000 career rushing yards, and QB Brian Bauk also could reach that lofty plateau.
That would be quite an achievement for Bauk. The only Rowan QB to reach 2,000 rushing yards in the last 50 years was Salisbury’s previous quarterback John Knox (2,296).
Allen has rushed 271 times for 1,779 yards and eight TDs. He’s in his second season as a starter at Salisbury after transferring from East Rowan. He played on the East varsity as a sophomore and also had a handful of varsity carries in the 3A playoffs as an East freshman.
Ruffin had a dozen varsity carries as a sophomore for Salisbury and now has rushed 176 times for 1,586 yards and 20 TDs in his career.
Bauk had minus yardage in brief varsity action as a Salisbury freshman and got 22 varsity carries as a sophomore. He’s rushed 196 times for 1,346 yards and 17 TDs for his career.
Kalif Phillips scored four more touchdowns in a 69-21 SPC romp against Robinson, giving him 13 for the season. Keenan Medley’s big night beat out Phillips in the estimation of Wonder coaches for offensive player of the week honors, but the physical Phillips still earned “Hit Man of the Week” for annihilating a defender on a peel-back block.
Luke Hill, the holder, was honored as special teams player of the week.
“He did a great job of handling some snaps that were bad and some snaps that were hot,” A.L. Brown coach Mike Newsome explained.
Hill also made a tackle on a kickoff and kicked a PAT.
Outside linebacker Orlando Gray was recognized as the defensive player of the week, while huge tackle Brandon Parker was named “Hawg of the Week.” The Wonders piled up 438 rushing yards, a season high.•
INJURY BUG: Leading receiver Keeon Johnson sat out the Robinson game to rest a nagging injury and running back Ricky Sherrill got banged up early in the Robinson game and saw limited carries.
Newsome said both injuries are “short-term” and is optimistic both will return to action when the Wonders travel to face resurgent Central Cabarrus on Friday.•
PICKING IT UP: Sophomore Daveon Perry, who played varsity ball at South Rowan as a freshman, picked off two passes against Robinson.
Davie County’s freshman Cade Carney came into Friday’s game with Thomasville averaging 165.5 rushing yards and stayed consistent with 166 yards in a 35-0 pounding of the Bulldogs. Thomasville assistant Dickie Cline said Carney reminded him of Madison Hedgecock, who played at Ledford and North Carolina before playing in the NFL.•
INJURY REPORT: All-State tackle Cole Blankenship, committed to N.C. State, injured a foot in the Lexington game and sat out Friday.
Blankenship’s right foot is in a boot.
The War Eagles hope to have him back for the CPC opener with R.J. Reynolds on Sept. 28. He won’t play against Hibriten Friday.
Outside linebacker Sam Nesbit will miss a few weeks with a neck sprain.•
GETTING HIS KICKS: Regular kicker Woody Parrish missed the Thomasville contest to play soccer in coach Lance Everette’s final game.
Punter Garrett Nestor filled in for Parrish and kicked three PATs. He is the son of Tim Nestor, now an college basketball official.•
Contributing to the notebook were Ronnie Gallagher, Mike London, Ryan Bisesi and Brian Pitts.